It has been predicted that the development of drone surveillance by the U.S. would spark a global race to develop new drone capabilities, leading to a potentially dystopian future of drone wars where combat and even assassinations can be performed by fleets of insect-like microbots. The Washington Post reported in July, 2011:
More than 50 countries have purchased surveillance drones, and many have started in-country development programs for armed versions because no nation is exporting weaponized drones beyond a handful of sales between the United States and its closest allies. (Source)
The number of countries possessing surveillance drones has now risen toward 90, plus the United Nations itself has launched its own fleet. Armed drones are also proliferating rapidly with at least 20 countries believed to have unmanned weaponized vehicles. Japan is the latest to go full-steam ahead in an effort to keep up – so much so that they actually have rewritten their constitution to ensure more militaristic endeavors.
As you will see from the various updates below, I have been chronicling the global drone arms race in its various forms for quite some time. We are now reaching the threshold where the race to acquire drones is about to transform into who has the most, who has the most lethal, and who can properly incorporate autonomous functions to build the next generation of robotic warfare and dominate the planet.
Defense One is reporting a startling new reality in Japan: the loosening of their constitution as a means to permit the deployment of drones outside its borders. It comes at a particularly troubling time, as tensions rise with China over resources in the area of the Senkaku Islands.
A key long-term goal for Japan’s booming drone program is to use these military UAVs abroad to protect the country’s interests, said the IHS Jane’s senior analyst. However, until last month, this would have been illegal due to Article 9 of the nation’s pacifist constitution, which explicitly prohibits belligerence.
In June, (Prime Minister) Abe granted the nation’s self-defense forces more power when he gutted Article 9, the so-called “peace clause.” Through a cabinet decision, Abe re-interpreted the article to allow greater use of military force to defend other countries. In doing so, he bypassed parliament and the typical requirement for a referendum for any change to the constitution. (emphasis added)
Did anyone hear about this from America’s corporate media? Apparently, it didn’t go over well in Japan:
Hundreds of thousands of Japanese citizens protested outside the prime minister’s official residence, while a man on a bridge in central Tokyo set himself on fire to demonstrate against the move. The Japanese media blasted the decision. Abe ignored the criticisms and plowed ahead. In a press conference to present the changes, he announced that the time had come for a re-interpretation of the law. He said North Korea’s nuclear missile program and China’s military expansion in the region justified the move.
Sounds like dictatorial action being taken in a supposed democracy … with the full support of the U.S. government.
A veteran Japanese politician even warned that the country’s re-armament looked like “a kind of pre-war revival.” The United States has aided Tokyo in its efforts to re-arm, deploying two unarmed Global Hawk long-range surveillance drones in May to a base in Northern Japan, which infuriated both China and North Korea.
Japan certainly has come a long way from the novelty beach ball drone that began this chronicle more than two years ago. This new willingness to shed their modern-day pacifism at such a contentious political time across the planet could quickly ignite into a major conflict.
As you read through the updates below, where do think this drone race is likely to lead?
Please read the full article from Defense One here: